The capital of Canada, Ottawa is home to a wide variety of tranquil lakes, river rapids, and calm seas which makes it a perfect paddling and kayaking destination for people with a love to various water sports activities. You can choose from a wide number of lakes and rivers for paddling in Ottawa.
The most prominent place for paddle boarding in Ottawa is Petrie Island which consists of massive sand depositions, seasonal flooding, a rich wealth of aquatic animals and water plants making it the perfect spot for kayaking and paddling in Ottawa.
This amazing island also houses numerous varieties of marine creatures like rare breeds of turtles, over one hundred thirty different species of birds, exotic vegetation like hackberry trees and a dense network of tracks through its nature reserve.
However, this is not the only place for paddle boarding in Ottawa.
In this beginners’ guide for paddle board in Ottawa, you’ll come across the best places, the best lakes and rivers in Ottawa, the best paddle boarding rentals in Ottawa and everything that you need for an awesome gliding experience in the capital city of Canada.
Here’s a quick summary of what you’ll discover in this blog post:
1. Is paddle boarding safe in Ottawa?
2. Why should you go paddling in Ottawa?
3. Best places, rivers and lakes in Ottawa for paddle boarding?
4. Best paddle board rentals in Ottawa [Shopes, Boat houses and more]
5. Accessories you need for paddling in Ottawa and much more
Is paddle boarding safe in Ottawa?
Ottawa is the capital city of Canada and surely one of the safest places for paddle boarding in the world. However, minor crimes and robberies are possible but not while you are paddle boarding. If you take proper care and precaution, you’ll be 100% safe and fine while paddling in Ottawa.
Taxis, trains and other modes of public transportation are also 100% safe in Ottawa at the day and even at night which makes it, even more, safer for newbies, kids, beginners and women paddlers as well. However, in some regions, you need to be careful with robberies as I mentioned before.
Another drawback of Ottawa is that it is prone to avalanches, earthquakes, hurricanes and high waves. So, make sure that you carry all the safety paddling gear and accessories before going for a ride.
Scams in Ottawa are very rare. So, if you are looking for a paddle boarding rental in Ottawa, you won’t be getting scammed or thuged by the store owners. The people here are honest and will charge you as per the season, demand and industry standards only.
Why should to go paddle boarding in Ottawa?
1. Breathtaking views and attractions
When paddle boarding or surfing in Ottawa, the Capital city of Canada, you’ll come across a fascinating mix of attractions which includes the famous Parliament hill situated in the heart of the Downtown, the skyline of Ottawa City, The Royal Canadian Mint, The Notre Dame Cathedral – the oldest church in Canada and so much more. If you want to enjoy surfboarding in Ottawa, you can visit Major’s hill park the largest public park in Ottawa, which is absolutely free of cost.
2. Rideau Canal
The next reason why you should be visiting Ottawa for paddle boarding is because of Rideau Canal, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the best place for kayaking, canoeing and paddle boarding in summer. During winter, the water gets frozen and you can also try your hands at skating over here.
3. Rich culture
Apart from paddling and surfing in Ottawa, you can also enjoy the rich culture and architecture of this place. From the beautiful Canadian War Museum that showcases Canada’s war history to the National Gallery of Canada where you can experience the heredity and culture, Ottawa is surely a visit must destination for this year. If you wish to experience more about this city, you can visit Canada’s Aviation and Space Museum and Canada’s Science and Technology Museum.
A brief look at Ottawa’s map for lakes, rivers and more for paddle boarding
Best lakes for paddle boarding in Ottawa
1. Lac Leamy
Spreading across 174 acres and located on Fournier Boulevard in the sector of Gatineau, Laeamy lake is one of the best spots for paddle boarding and surfing in Ottawa. Considered to be a true Oasis, this park go-to spot for outdoor activities on water and recreational adventure with friends and family.
This lake is surrounded by the Ottawa river and Gatineau river with ample beach guards and lifeguards on duty and supervising the swimming pool area, so you don’t need to worry about drowning in the water. While lifeguards are here to protect you, two volleyball courts, a playground for kids and beginners and picnic area with BBQ pits, and a pathway for biking and hiking trails are also part of this park.
Kayaks, canoes, tandem kayaks, solo kayaks, wakeboards and boats are available for rentals at the Centre de plein air du Lac-Leamy, operated by the Ville de Gatineau. In winter, you can accept snowboards, snowmobiles, skis and other winter sports accessories. And if you are tired of kayaking and it’s time to take a break, you can pay a visit to a cafe or pub that is in operation at the time.
If you are not here for kayaking, hiking or camping, you can also enjoy birding. The Leamy Lake park is home of more than 180 species of birds which includes pileated woodpeckers, Northern cardinals and cedar waxwings.
2. Dow Lake
Dow’s Lake is one of my personal favourites because it is a 100% man-made lake, small in size and located on the Rideau Canal approximately 2 kilometers away from the Hog’s Back Falls in Ottawa. The best thing about this lake is that it allows visitors to enjoy summer and winter recreational activities. From camping kayaking to snowboarding, this lake will allow you to enjoy it all.
During the winter, Dow Lake freezes and becomes the most iconic spot in the world for winter sports activities like ice skating, snowboarding, waiter races, and bed races on the ice.
There are also two scenic drives located on either side of the lake. The famous Queen Elizabeth Driveway and The Colonel By Drive. Both the drives are perfect for taking pictures, hiking, biking trails and camping along with friends and family. The first Driveway is named after Queen Elizabeth, while the latter is named after the founder of the city Lieutenant-Colonel John.
After a long kayaking or snowboarding session, you’ll surely need a break and something to eat, right? On the north side of the lake, you’ll come across three famous restaurateurs namely Umbrella Bar, Lago and Mexi’s.
Some other services running on the lakeside include canoe, kayak and paddle boat rentals, boat mooring and an indoor change area for skating. It is open year-round.
3. Calabogie Lake
If you are looking for stunning stand-up fishing or bass fishing, or fly fishing experience in Ottawa, Calabogie Lake has got your back covered. From northern pike to smallmouth bass from largemouth bass to yellow perch – there are a variety of fish species found on the lake. However, smallmouth and largemouth bass are in excess.
The lake is a 100% reservoir lake located in the municipality of Greater Madawaska. The lake is surrounded by beautiful lush green forest hills and is a great place for anglers, swimmers, paddle boarders, and wakeboarders. There are also several hiking and camping trails located available on the lakeside, allowing you to enjoy both watersports and outdoor activities.
You can also dine on the lakeside at the Boathouse Bar & Grill. Light snack and beer are worth giving it a try over here.
4. Round Lake
If you are looking for an awesome kayaking session on one of the cleanest lakes of Ottawa, Round Lake is the place where you should be at. This lake is so clear that you can see through it and look at the sandy bottom floor that is literary located 10 feet or more. This is the lake is 100% safe for swimming and other water sports activities as the depth is menial.
You can tie your boat or kayak on two docks located at the shorefront. There are also stand-up paddle board, canoe and kayak rentals available on the lakeside.
The lake is located five kilometres away from the Foymount Provincial Par. It is 7.5 kilometres long and 100+ feet in depth, making it slightly shallow as compared to other lakes in Ottawa. The Bonnechere River is the main tributary of this lake that begins in the heart of Algonquin park.
When the Bonnechere River leaves Round Lake, it continues to flow towards Golden Lake. In this area, a hydro dam was built in the late 20s which flooded and land around the lake.
5. Golden lake
If you personally ask me which is the best lake for paddle boarding in Ottawa, I would say it’s Golden Lake.
This lake is absolutely gorgeous and a body of water located on Bonnechere River, which is 25 kilometres southwest of Ontario. Fishing with a stand-up paddle board, wakeboarding, surfing in Ottawa, kayaking and boating are some of the watersport activities that can be carried on this lake.
The lake is made of three sections of water bodies: a large section, a smaller section and a much smaller section. The large section is on the western end of the lake, while the smaller section is towards the easy and a much smaller section on the eastern end and flows directly into Bonnechere river, yet another paddle boarding in Ottawa.
The lake is also suited for fishing adventures and is home to smallmouth bass fishing and pike fish, which can be found in shallow areas of the lake. Guess what? You are also allowed duck hunting on the lake, provided that you have taken relevant permission from the authorities.
6. Lake Doré
Lake Dore is not only good for paddle boarding in Ottawa, but it also attracts a wide range of birds in Spring and fall migrations, making it a complete spot for birding and camping for nature lovers. Some of the most prominent species of birds found on this lake are Red-necked and Red Phalarope, Pomarine and Parasitic Jaeger, and more.
Lake birding starts when spring ice break is at its peak in April and water flow and gulls start appearing. Besides, Common Goldeneye, Common Mergansers, Ring-billed and Herring Gulls also started to move in this area. If you are planning for a paddle boarding session from April to June make sure to carry your camera as you will not like to miss out on capturing the beautiful moments.
Lake Bore also offers you ample recreational, fishing and boating opportunities. The lake is home to large-mouth bass fishing and small-mouth bass fish just similar to Dore Lake.
Kayaking rentals, cottages on rentals, cafes and small restaurants are available from point to point, allowing you to enjoy a stunning meal right after your paddle boarding session.
7. Gatineau Park
Gatineau Park is one of the largest green space parks in Ottawa and is also great for picnics, camping, walking, hiking trails, kayaking and paddle boarding in Ottawa. The park spreads across 300+ square kilometres and its rich biodiversity, lush green areas, wildlife and brides make it the second most visited park in Canada.
From nature lovers to anglers with a knack for fishing, from professional snowboarders to camping lovers -each one and everyone can visit and experience the beauty of this park that is just minutes away from Ottawa City. Take some pictures across historic sites or try your hands at swimming in Phillippe Lake, Gatineau Park has a lot more to offer.
Seniors, kids, beginners, teens, adults and couples can visit the park for free, however, you might need to pay for some recreational activities and food as well.
In addition, you can learn about Canada’s history and culture and enjoy a meal at the Mackenzie King Estate, the wartime prime minister’s summer home.
8. Downtown Gatineau
The next destination for surfing in Ottawa is Downton Gatineau which features crystal clear water and stunning views of the high skyline of Ottawa City and high hills as well.
For kayaking and paddle boarding, you can visit Gatineau Park located in the region of Quebec, Canada. It is a popular recreational destination for locals and tourists with ample public facilities including camping grounds, picnic spots, trails, parkways, lakes, beaches, a swimming pool and a lot more. For hiking trails, you have got a total of 200+ kilometre area and 90 kilometres are for mountain biking.
For watersport activities and adventures, beaches are located at Meech Lake, Lac Phillipe and La Pêche Lake. you can also get kayaking and paddle board rentals here.
During the winter season, cross-country skiing is the main activity carried out here by locals. Downhill skiing and snowboarding is also done by professionals at Camp Fortune.
9. Petrie Island
There are two large public beaches on the northeast corner of the island: North Beach (or River Beach) and East Bay Beach. Public parking for 320 vehicles is available (parking fee is $2 for 5 hours, 7:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m., 7 days a week). The picnic area maintained by Friends of Petrie Island also has a supervised beach with a play area for small children, which is more shaded than the other two beaches.
The islands were created from deposits of clay and sand that were left behind after the last ice age. The area is home to important wetlands and forests, which provide habitat for plants, animals, and birds – especially during spring and fall migration. There is also a lot of flooding in the spring. The size of the islands got smaller when the hydroelectric dam at Carillon raised water levels.
10. Muskrat Lake
Muskrat lake is located in the whitewater region of Canada and features over 300+ lakefronts, camping grounds, and some natural flora and fauna, making it an ideal spot for paddle boarding in Ottawa.
This river is having three major tributaries which include the Muskrat river and Buttermilk creek from the eastern side and Snake River from the south side. Muskrat Lake meets with the Muskrat river at the western point where it continues to glide towards Pembroke Ontario and goes upto Ottawa River.
Best rivers for paddle boarding in Ottawa
1. Rideau River
With a total length of 146 kilometres, the Rideau River is located in Eastern Ontario, Canada and flows from the upper north of Rideau lake and meets with the Ottawa river at the famous Rideau Falls.
Since the river is located in Rideau River Park, you’ll also get the opportunity to enjoy a variety of fun outdoor and recreational activities apart from paddle boarding in Ottawa. Biking, Birding, Boating, kayaking, wakeboarding, and water skiing are some activities that you can enjoy at this park.
Facilities available at the park are numerous such as flush toilets, a park store, a laundromat, a picnic shelter and paddle board rents in Ottawa. You can rent paddle boards, canoes, and kayaks from the Park Office for around $25 per hour more or less.
Car camping and group camping option is also available. There are more than 200 campsites, located in a mature forest.
2. Carp River
The Crap River is a 42-kilometre-long river in Ottawa, Canada and spreads across Stittsville, Kanata and West Carleton-March. The water at the river originates from upper Carp and glides southwest from Appaloose Park under Eagleson Road through Road.
The water that flows onto the river is calm, smooth and less choppy, allowing you to kayak and paddle board with complete peace of mind. Even newbies, beginners and kids can paddle board here and enjoy their hot summer.
Paddleboarding and recreational activities are almost free in this river basin. You can also try fishing and hunting by taking relevant permission from the authorities.
The only drawback of this river is that you won’t find any paddle boarding rental shops, clubs or restaurants over here. So, I would recommend you to bring along your paddle board, cooler, some food and drinks and kayak dry storage bag as well.
3. Jock River
Best known for conducting the canoe race, Jock River is yet another great place for surfing and paddle boarding in Ottawa. Local people living in Eastern Ontario call this river Mighty Jock which was named after a man named Jacques who drowned in it in the late 19th century.
The river is very calm and composed and will also give you ample of fishing opportunities and other recreational activities as well. The water might sometime become slightly choppy but you don’t need to worry about the high tides.
The river starts its journey from Montague In Lanark Country and flows under the Canadian Pacific Railway main line. This is a great place for sightseeing. You can stop your paddle board or kayak and capture some beautiful pictures over here. The total watershed drains of Jock river is 551 square kilometres of land, which makes it pretty huge for camping and paddle boarding.
For one weekend each spring, the popular Annual Jock River Canoe Race is held between Munster Road and the town of Richmond, covering 12.5 kilometres
During the spring season, the popular Annual Jock River Canoe Race is conducted here between Munster Road and the town of Richmond, covering a distance of 12.5 kilometres.
4. Patterson Creek (Ottawa)
Named after Patterson Creek, this creek is yet another great spot for paddle boarding in Ottawa. The creek is a small body of water that flows from the east via a swampy area into the Rideau River. On both sides of the creek, you’ll come across lush green trees, mountains, scenic views and some amazing wildlife as well.
The total creek is more than 100 acres of Westlands and forests along, making it a perfect spot for camping and hiking as well. Speaking about the natural flora and fauna, Patterson Creek has got several different species of birds, flowers, wetlands, and more that add upto the beauty of this area.
You can also try your hands at Patterson Creek with Salmon fishing.
In case, you are not interested in kayaking or paddle boarding, you can also enjoy birding at the creek since it is home to numerous of beautiful and gorgeous looking birds, cycling trails, hiking with friends and family, night and day camping, walking on pathways and so much more.
5. Petawawa River
Considering to be travel friendly, the Petawawa River is next on my list for best places for paddling in Ottawa. The river is located in the northern part of Algonquin Provincial Park and starts small from the northern side of the park with a small current flowing eastern direction. The upper side of the river is interconnected with several small lakes, giving you ample of opportunities for kayaking, surfing, boating and wakeboarding as well.
At the upper side, the water flowing is mostly calm and flat, so you can paddle hassle-free without worrying about tipping off. However, if you are looking for a sporty or whitewater adventure for kayaking, you might need to go downstream and extend your trip for a few days.
The most common place over here is McManus lake which is excellent for lake paddling with class I, II and strong swifts. You take your river or ocean paddle board here and enjoy the splash of water.
If you are planning for paddling the whole river, you should have some experience with paddle boarding or any watercraft that you are riding.
Of course, there are well-maintained portages around the rapids, making it easy to complete the ride for beginner paddlers, but still, you need some amount of experience and knowledge to finish the paddling.
6. South Nation River
If you are looking for an absolutely hassle-free paddle-boarding experience in Ottawa, South Nation River is calling for you. Starting its journey from the north of Brockville, this river flows 175 km up to the Ottawa river. It offers exceptional paddling, kayaking and canoeing experience with something for everyone.
Since the river flows via a mix of forest, rural farmland and villages, you’ll also get an opportunity for sightseeing and click some of the best pictures you can.
The water flowing is less choppy, flat and calm, making it easy for beginner and novice paddlers alike to enjoy the river via paddling or surfing in Ottawa.
You can also visit some historic villages like Spencerville with your kayak or touring paddle board and continue your ride further downstream through the most accessible and easy-to-navigate parts of the river. If you are gliding from the placid sections, water will flow a bit fast and average, making it slightly daunting for beginners to paddle.
Overall, South Nation River is perfect for padding in Ottawa.
7. Castor River
Whether you want are looking for an awesome place for surfing in Ottawa, or boating, or canoeing, or kayaking, Castor River has got your back covered like a charm.
The river forms near Silver Lake in Ste. Genevieve County with rivers I to IV, making it absolutely seaworthy for kayaking, paddle boarding, boating and canoeing. The quality of the water is very good, clean and cool with an aqua-green tint. The river is also easy to navigate without GPS or a tracking system.
The best time for paddle boarding at the Castor River is the spring season and summer seasons. During this time you’ll also experience beautiful rainfall and enjoy your time with local rain events as well.
8. Mississippi River (Ontario)
This blog post of the best places for paddle boarding surfboarding in Ottawa cannot be over without mentioning about Mississippi River. Every time you visit this river it will offer you endless kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding and surfing opportunities.
There are ample boat launches available on several points, allowing the paddlers easy access of the river. Although paddling at all the sections of the river is not permissible there are still a few destinations which you can reach easily. For example, The Army Corps of Engineers is must visit spot and easy to navigate as well.
The river is divided into three sections that make paddling on the Mississippi River even easier. I won’t recommend you to start paddling from upstream, as the river is narrow and winding, making it daunting for paddling.
9. Du Lièvre River
For long-distance kayaking, canoeing and paddling, I would recommend you to visit Du Lièvre River which is located in Western Quebec and flows from south of the Mitchinamecus reserve to the Ottawa river. It is 300+ kilometres long with a drainage area of 10,000+ square kilometres.
So what are you waiting for? Get your solo or tandem paddle board ready and enjoy surfing or gliding on this river.
10. Macatawa River
Are you looking for blackwater kayaking, canoeing or surfing in Ottawa? If yes, you should be at Macatawa River.
The river is located in the lower part of Ottawa City and drains into lake Macatawa, which is yet another place for surfboarding in Ottawa. This river is small and suited for short-distance paddling. It is just 27 km long and you can complete the full tour in a day as well.
Alongside the river, you’ll also come across multiple waterfalls, lakeside views, forest and wetlands spots for taking pictures or taking a short break, and you could explore wildlife as well.
Accessories that you need for paddle boarding in Ottawa
1. Safety jacket:
If you want to enjoy a safe and hassle-free paddle-boarding experience in Ottawa or anywhere in the world, safety should be your top priority. Therefore, you need to make sure that you are equipped with a 100% safe paddling life jacket certified by NMMA and US Coastal Guard Association.
The boating or paddling life jacket will safeguard you from accidents, especially if you don’t know about swimming.
If you are planning for a long-distance paddling trip in Ottawa, you surely need to look after your food, drinks and other beverages. This is where a paddle board cooler comes into the picture. Get an insulated cooler with ample storage space.
A paddleboard cooler will keep your food and beverages fresh for a long time and allow you to enjoy the best time paddling in Ottawa.
3. Depth finder:
Knowing the depth beneath your paddle board could be the difference between catching a limit or getting skunked. Depth finders are surely essential gear for anyone looking forward to paddle boarding in Ottawa. They’ll help you with not only knowing what is the depth beneath the water but also showing you a visual map of the body of water you are paddling on.
4. Fishing accessories:
If you have a knack for fishing while paddle boarding, then you must load yourself with fishing accessories and gear like rod holders, fish finder, casting reel, bait for fishing and many other accessories that will take your paddle board fishing in Ottawa to the next level.
Paddling in Ottawa is surely a fun activity. You can paddle around a remote island in the city or on the beach side. You can also glide through the longest river in Ottawa or try a hand at fishing on black lake.
However, in order to play it safe, you need a proper way to map and navigate your ideal location, or you might get lost. This is where the kayaking GPS or fish finder system comes into the picture. A kayaking GPS system will surely help you with navigation, mapping, tracking location and fish, knowing about the depth of water and a lot more. Hence, it is a must-have accessory on the trip.
6. Kayaking speaker:
Paddle boarding in Ottawa is surely a daunting activity. And it is quite possible you might get tired or bored in between your paddling adventure. So, what can you do to unwind? Of course, listening to music in the middle of your paddling journey is the best thing you can do to unwind and refresh.
Opt for a waterproof kayaking speaker with GPS connectivity, allowing you not only to listen to your favourite music but also to stay in contact with your loved ones.
A GPS smartwatch will help you track the time and might also help you with connecting with your friends and family if you are not carrying your cell phone.
8. Dry storage bag:
I am 100% sure you want to carry your necessary kayaking accessories and gear while kayaking or paddle boarding in Ottawa, right? If yes, then a kayak dry storage bag is the perfect gear for your next wilderness.
FAQs About Paddle Boarding In Ottawa
No, you don’t need permits or licenses for kayaking or canoeing in Ottawa. If you own a kayak or paddle board for a canoe then you can take it for a ride anywhere in Ottawa. However, make sure to consult with the local authorises before kayaking on any river or lake.
Absolutely! You can paddle anywhere in Ottawa without any hesitation. There are 100+ lakes, rivers, reservoirs and ample beachside in Ottawa where you can kayak canoe and paddle board.
There are more than 7,600 freshwater lakes and 100+ rivers in Ottawa where you can kayak, canoe, do boating, paddle boarding, wakeboarding and carry out many other watersport activities.
There is no specific answer to this question. Generally, any type of paddle board you can buy or rent for paddling in Ottawa. From fishing SUPs to recreational boards, from tandem paddle boards to inflatable boards – any type of watercraft is suited for paddle boarding in Ottawa.